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Dexedrine Abuse

By Dr. Emily Kensington

The risk of Dexedrine abuse must be taken seriously because Dexedrine can be habit forming when used for long periods of time or at higher than recommended doses. Dexedrine is a stimulant that is used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also referred to as ADD or ADHD.

At levels prescribed by a doctor it is safe, but all stimulants cause a "high" at higher doses.

Signs of Dexedrine intoxication include an irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperatures, and the potential for cardiovascular failure or seizures.

Ingesting high doses of stimulants can lead to hostility or feelings of paranoia and hostility in some individuals.

The Statistics

According to a 1996 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) study, roughly 30-50% of adolescents in drug treatment centers reported "non-medical" use of stimulants such as Dexedrine and Ritalin.

A 1998 Indiana University study of 44,232 students found that 6.8 percent of ninth-graders surveyed reported using Dexedrine or Ritalin, either snorted or injected, at least once. Of those students, 2.5 percent reported Dexedrine/Ritalin abuse monthly or more often.

In addition, some adolescents abuse Dexedrine for it's contribution toward weight loss.

The Pattern Of Abuse

Addiction is rarely intentional, rather it occurs when an individual begins to depend on the immediate and predictable high Dexedrine provides.

Addiction is characterized by increasing dosages and frequent episodes of use, followed by an enormous “low” in the form of depression. Severe Dexedrine side effects, including death, have been reported with Dexedrine abuse and addiction.

Over time, drugs can derail motivation to perform everyday life demands. Activities or relationships that were previously enjoyable go largely ignored in favor of drug use and recovery time.

Dexedrine tablets are either abused orally, or crushed and snorted. It can also be dissolved in water and injected, but this is more rare. A popular means of dispersal is adolescents giving or selling their Dexedrine medication to their peers.

Crushing the tablets and snorting the powder like cocaine is popular. Another form of Dexedrine abuse is through dissolving Dexedrine in water and injecting the fluid.

Safety Tips

Dexedrine should not be mixed with other medications without the approval of a doctor, especially antidepressants or over-the-counter cold medicines. Antidepressants may enhance the effects of Dexedrine, and Dexedrine in combination with decongestants may cause blood pressure to become dangerously high or lead to irregular heart rhythms.

Make sure Dexedrine is only taken as directed, and inform children to never share pills with friends. Avoid problems by dispensing all medication to your child yourself in order to make sure it is not abused. Keep all medications out of reach. If medication is needed during the school day, it should be administered by the school nurse.


Treatment for Dexedrine addiction, depending on the severity, often combines an initial detoxification and a course of behavioral therapy.

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